Kaiser Permanente Health Research
KP Health Research Our Research Centers
Kaiser Permanente Health Research
We have established eight research centers across the country that conduct epidemiological studies and health services research. In addition, our physicians and researchers conduct clinical trials of new drugs, medical devices, and other therapies through several organized clinical trials centers and independently. Put together, Kaiser Permanente’s research centers and scientists comprise one of the largest nonacademic research programs in the United States.
Approximately 2,000 studies involving Kaiser Permanente clinicians and researchers are in progress at any given time. Some operate out of one of the regional research centers; many spearhead research projects through their local medical centers.
While Kaiser Permanente research guides our clinicians’ practice patterns and further enhances the health and medical care of our members, it also contributes to the wealth of medical knowledge worldwide.
Some of our contributions to date:
- A study of more than 132,000 children over a five-year period suggests a link between incidences of Autism Spectrum Disorders and advanced maternal and paternal age — in other words, the possibility that men and women who wait until later in life to have babies may increase their children’s risk for autism.
- A confirmation of a connection between breast cancer rates, hormone therapy, and mammography screening was made possible by studying Kaiser Permanente’s multiple, interlinked databases. The primary finding was that breast cancer rates moved in tandem with hormone use since 1990, as studied in the histories of 7,386 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and treated in Kaiser Permanente’s facilities in Oregon and Washington.
- Drinking coffee could help protect against alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver, according to researchers who followed more than 125,000 Kaiser Permanente members over an eight-year period. The researchers observed a clear association between coffee consumption and protection against alcohol-related cirrhosis.
- Our researchers were the first to show, in the 1970s, a correlation between moderate to light use of alcohol and a lower risk of heart disease.
Our research history
Research has been a focus of Kaiser Permanente’s clinicians and staff since the health plans’ beginning in the early 1940s. It was in August 1942, at the dedication of the Permanente Foundation Hospital in Oakland, California, that Henry J. Kaiser said of the Health Plan that one of its key purposes "…is to provide funds for research."
In 1945, the Department of Medical Research, an arm of the Permanente Foundation and a precursor to today’s Division of Research in Oakland, was in its gestation with a staff of more than 400 people; in 1946, it published its first article — on aspirin’s analgesic effects on pain.*
Collaborative research partnerships
Kaiser Permanente research centers and clinicians partner with more than 40 prominent academic research institutions, including:
- Case Western Reserve University
- Emory University
- Harvard University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Kent State University
- Mayo Clinic
- Oregon Health Sciences University
- Stanford University
- University of Colorado
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of California, San Francisco
Our research centers collaborate on studies with federal agencies such as the:
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention